Florida Panthers Facebook Florida Panthers Twitter Florida Panthers Google+ Florida Panthers Pintrest Florida Panthers Instagram Florida Panthers
World Juniors

Team USA Routs Latvia To Avoid WJC Relegation

Bjugstad (five points), Rau (four points) help power Americans to 12-2 victory.

Tuesday, 01.3.2012 / 5:15 PM ET / World Juniors
Share with your Friends

Team USA Routs Latvia To Avoid WJC Relegation
CALGARY -- While there were no grand goal celebrations or high-fives, the U.S. National Junior Team instead took a businesslike approach on Tuesday in scoring a 12-2 victory over Latvia in the opening game of the relegation round at the 2012 World Junior Championship at Scotiabank Saddledome.
The victory officially spares the U.S. from being relegated and earned them a ticket into the 2013 WJC in Ufa, Russia.
"Once we got up a few goals, it was kind of anti-climactic, but definitely the guys played with a pace that we wanted to and obviously we were able to spread the scoring around," U.S. coach Dean Blais said. "You want to always win your last game and we've got an opportunity to do that against a good Swiss team [on Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET]. So we have a chance to gain some respectability out of the whole thing after being out of the medal round."

2012 World Junior Championship

Swedes, Finns renew rivalry in semifinal

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent
There's always something at stake when Finland and Sweden face off, but in Tuesday's case it's the opportunity to advance to the gold medal game at the World Junior Championship. READ MORE ›

U.S. forwards Austin Watson and Nick Bjugstad each had a hat trick and Jason Zucker, J.T. Miller, Bill Arnold, Adam Clendening, Kyle Rau and Austin Czarnik all had one apiece as the U.S. scored a dozen goals on 58 shots.
"The [Brandon] Saad, Watson and Bjugstad line were good from the drop of the puck until the end of the game," Blais said. "They complemented each other; it's just too bad we didn't get that chemistry going a little bit earlier in the tournament. But that was definitely the best line on the ice."
Watson, who was named Team USA's player of the game, finished the contest with a team-high 7 points, including 4 assists. Bjugstad produced 5 points. Brandon Saad chipped in with 4 assists for the Americans.
"It was nice playing with Austin Watson and Brandon Saad … they are two good players who get you the puck," Bjugstad told NHL.com. "Obviously, it was a little too late to show up offensively, I guess. I would have liked to have done that the past three or four games, but it's good to get a win like this."
Watson's 7-point night equaled the U.S. record for most points in a WJC game. Ted Drury (2 goals, 5 assists) and Doug Weight (1 goal, 6 assists) each connected for 7 points in a 19-1 triumph over Norway back in 1991.
"I didn't know that it was a record, but it's an honor to be mentioned with those players," Watson said.
Watson was then asked if he was thinking about gunning for Yevgeni Kuznetsov's tournament-high 9-point total for the Russians against Latvia in a 14-0 victory last Thursday. Kuznetsov finished with 3 goals and 6 assists in the triumph.
"We'd seen that he had 9 points, but going into this game, that wasn't on any of our minds," Watson said. "It wasn't a competition to get the most points out there. We all just wanted to play to the best of our ability and have a good solid team game."
U.S. goalie Jack Campbell, who made 27 saves in recording his second victory of the tournament, is currently tied with Al Montoya (2004, 2005) for most victories by a U.S. goalie at the WJC. His victory over Latvia improved his three-year WJC mark to 7-2-1-3 (W-OTW-OTL-L) in 13 appearances.
"I watched Jack win a gold medal on TV a couple years ago and I looked up to him," Bjugstad said. "Now I'm playing with him and it's an honor. He's a great player and he's probably one of the best goalies to come out of the USA program, so it's definitely a good honor for him."
Watson, a first-round draft pick (No. 18) of the Nashville Predators in 2010, notched a natural hat trick in the opening 16:17 of the first before Zucker, the U.S. captain, extended the lead to 4-0 with a shorthanded goal at 18:47. Bjugstad, a first-round pick (No. 19) of the Florida Panthers in 2010, notched his hat trick in the second when the U.S. scored seven times to open an 11-1 advantage.
"We want to be remembered as a hard working team," Bjugstad said. "We worked hard but feel as though we just didn't get the bounces we really needed to win the tournament. I felt like we really wanted [a medal], but it didn't go our way."
Latvia ended the shutout bid when 2012 draft eligible sniper Zemgus Girgensons of the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the United States Hockey League beat Campbell on the short side off a shot low in the left circle. Latvia's second goal came midway through the third when Teodors Blugers scored from a sharp angle to Campbell's left.
This year, the 10th-place team from the WJC will be relegated to Division I in 2013 and will be replaced by Germany, winner of the Division 1 crown earlier last month. Prior to Tuesday's matchup, the U.S. and Latvia had only met once before in WJC play -- a 12-1 victory by the Americans on Dec. 29, 2009, in Saskatoon, Sask.

Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer




1 WSH 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
5 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
6 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 55 25 24 6 154 169 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 47


J. Jagr 51 17 21 14 38
J. Jokinen 54 11 27 12 38
J. Huberdeau 54 10 28 12 38
V. Trocheck 54 17 18 3 35
A. Barkov 43 16 19 13 35
R. Smith 54 18 16 12 34
B. Pirri 50 11 13 -4 24
A. Ekblad 50 10 13 20 23
B. Campbell 54 5 17 20 22
N. Bjugstad 39 9 10 -1 19
R. Luongo 24 13 5 .928 2.17
A. Montoya 8 3 1 .929 2.01

FloridaPanthers.com is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and floridapanthers.com are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks and NHL Draft name and logo are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2016 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.